CSU Students for Life spark conversation about what pro-life pregnancy centers actually do

Many pro-life pregnancy resource centers fight an uphill battle against the misconceptions people have about them; however, their life-affirming work to help both mothers and their babies shouldn’t be written off just because of a certain label. 

On May 15, CSU Students for Life hosted a Zoom meeting to start a conversation about the harmful language used to describe pro-life pregnancy resource centers. The meeting was held in response to a CSU student senate resolution passing which asked Colorado State University  “to take action in preventing AACC (Anti-Abortion Counseling Centers) from spreading misinformation on reproductive Health Care by ensuring that AACC’s do not have any misleading advertisements on CSU’s grounds.” 

Laura Rencher, president of the club, brought together the representatives of four different pregnancy centers in order to talk about the services they provide and the clarity they have with patients about being pro-life clinics. The four clinics that attended were Marisol Health, Birthline of Loveland, Alpha Center, and Life Choices. Rencher wanted to talk about the main misconceptions that people have about pregnancy centers and Christian medical clinics and have the representatives clear up these misunderstandings.  

“In my mind, Resolution 5008 didn’t provide a lot of evidence that local Colorado pregnancy help centers or Christian medical clinics provided misleading information aside from word-of-mouth claims and viral YouTube video cited by Vice,” Rencher said.“I wanted to promote civil and mature conversation on several of the claims made during the bill.” 

The main misconceptions about pregnancy centers and clinics that exist stem from them being called “fake clinics,” meaning that they do not provide factual and accurate medical diagnoses, and that they are anti-abortion counseling centers and cause “coercive trauma” to students. They are also thought of as non-inclusive spaces that force religious beliefs on patients. These were the main misconceptions Rencher had observed based on conversations she has had with students. 

Marisol Health is a medical center that helps women make informed decisions about their health. They provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, comprehensive OB-GYN and prenatal care, fertility/infertility care, and no cost or low-cost options for testing and treatment of STDs among many other services.  This clinic is partnered with Bella Health and Wellness, a comprehensive OB-GYN in Englewood. That means that they have qualified nurses and doctors that go into the clinics and treat women offering a full range of medical services.   

“We want everyone to know that when they come to us they are greeted right away with just support,” said Michelle Gallegos, community engagement specialist for Marisol Health’s Lafayette clinic. 

Birthline of Loveland is actually a pregnancy resource center that is not a clinic but refers their clients to Life Choices for medical services. Gwen Stephenson, the board president explained that they educate and equip people to make the best decision possible in regards to their health and pregnancy. They provide maternity clothing, layettes and diapers for new moms, infant and baby clothing, free pregnancy tests, free STI testing as well as adoption information. They also support families after their babies are born and provide services for two years. 

The Alpha Center, which is close to the CSU campus, is another Christian medical clinic that provides education and services related to sexual health under the supervision of Dr. Kauffman and Dr. Hayes, an OB-GYN. This clinic provides pregnancy and STD testing, limited ultrasound, miscarriage, and early infant loss support, and pre-abortion screening with other services.   

They are clear that this clinic does not refer to or do abortions; however, Rebecca Jones, the staff nurse of the center, says that pre-abortion screening is provided for women to know how far along they are in their pregnancy. This helps the patients to know they whether or not they have a viable pregnancy and in turn allows them to make an informed decision about whether or not they should seek an abortion.   

“We want them to know if it’s a viable pregnancy so they don’t have to make a decision and pay for something that is not medically necessary,” Jones said. 

Life Choices is also a pregnancy center that provides similar services to the other clinics as well as abortion pill reversal, post-abortion support, and healing as well as parenting classes. In response to the video about pregnancy centers in Texas that was attached to the bill, executive director Kathy Roberts said, “I winced when I watched this, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for coming against a center based on that video. No one deserves to be tricked or feel unsafe or not heard.”  

The video mentioned was about a pregnancy center in Texas that was misleading women into thinking that they do abortions but when they arrived they were being persuaded to not have the abortion and were not told that they do not do those procedures. This caused an uproar since many felt that this was misleading and it was and insensitive to the women that were not looking to be coerced into not having an abortion.  

Angela Davis, volunteer coordinator of the Alpha Center says that she does know of clinics that operate in that manner and that it’s unfortunate because that makes a blanket statement for all Christian-based pregnancy clinics. 

Regarding the enforcement of religious beliefs, Jennifer Green, community engagement specialist of Marisol Health in East Denver said, “We serve because we are Christian, but you don’t have to be Christian for us to serve you. We just want to serve because we want everyone to get the care they deserve.”  

Marisol Health is an entity of Catholic Charities, which recently implemented an agency-wide trauma and care training to better serve and care for clients.  

At the student government hearing which passed Resolution 5008, one senator commented that “people who are pro-life are not pro-life, they are anti-choice.” This comment was another motivating factor for Rencher to hold this conversation.  

“As someone who is pro-life, that was extremely hurtful to me because the resolution was saying we are against non-inclusive and misleading language,” Rencher said. “Yet they use non-inclusive and misleading language towards someone who is pro-life as someone who is anti-choice and that’s it… And so that’s another reason why I wanted to start this conversation.” 

Featured photo from CSU Students for Life Facebook page

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash